Mayoral Candidate Ed Harris on Rosecrans Street in Pt. Loma. Photo by Chris Jennewein
Mayoral Candidate Ed Harris on Rosecrans Street in Pt. Loma. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Lifeguard, union leader and former City Councilman Ed Harris says he decided to run for mayor of San Diego because Kevin Faulconer hasn’t fixed the city’s growing problems.

“Nobody’s brought up what hasn’t been done,” he said. “We’re facing huge challenges that haven’t been addressed.”

He said those challenges include retention of police officers, fixing failing infrastructure, making public services more efficient, supporting veterans and helping the homeless.

“The top two are public safety and infrastructure. There’s no getting around that,” he said. “If those are Kevin’s number one and number two priorities — which he says they are –he’s failed miserably at them.”

Harris, who was endorsed by the San Diego County Democratic Party earlier this week, met with Times of San Diego for a wide ranging interview in Point Loma, where he has lived for the past 20 years.

San Diego’s big problems remain unaddressed, he said, because Faulconer is widely believed to be focused on running for governor of California in 2018.

“You certainly can’t represent people if you’ve got one foot out the door,” Harris said. “As soon as he finishes running this campaign, if he’s re-elected, he will start running for his next campaign.”

In April 2014, after Faulconer was elected mayor in a special election to replace the disgraced Bob Filner, Harris was appointed to the City Council for nine months. He said he learned from that experience that government is frequently out of touch.

“As a whole, San Diego government is not paying attention or listening to its constituents,” he said, adding that this is especially true when it comes to large development projects like One Paseo in Carmel Valley.

San Diego needs affordable housing — and higher densities — but this requires better public transit, he said. In any event, city planners need to level with residents. “You can’t come into neighborhoods and not be truthful to them,” he said.

He said that with interest rates at historic lows, San Diego has a unique opportunity to borrow to fund infrastructure improvements. “We’re at a point in history when we can borrow money and put San Diegans to work to fix our roads, to fix our infrastructure,” he said.

Harris has so far received only “small dollar” donations, but has launched a campaign website and plans fundraising efforts and neighborhood events. He said he hopes the expected high turnout for the June 7 Presidential primary will help his chances.

“This Presidential election has engaged a community that has been really un-engaged,” he said. “Elect me further down the scale and I’ll try to fix it from the bottom.”

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.